Recently by Ian Johnson

Building a smart tree

Nova Scotia has taken on one of the most aggravating issues facing consumers: why do Christmas trees lose their needles?

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Tea for two (hundred dollars)

Afternoon tea in New York's Plaza Hotel was never just about the food. The palm trees, harp music, spirit of Eloise - the naughty little girl who lives at the Plaza in a famous series of children's books – made it into a cultural artifact.

But following a $400 million US renovation, tea at the Plaza is now all about the food. There's still music and palms, but the bland flavours of the original menu have been revamped by the hotel's new French chef, Didier Virot.

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Making a virtue out of random chance

When you only have a quarter of the birthdays most people have, you pull out all the stops.

That's why leapers - those (un)lucky souls who were born on Feb. 29 - make a big deal of their birthday falling on a day which only appears on calendars once in four years.

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